Shaw Communications isn't the first major media corporation to make its radio operation subservient to its TV wing.
And it won't be the last.
But lovers of radio should still be troubled by a recent Vancouver Sun report that three broadcasters—Jeremy Lye, Jon Hall, and Tim Dickert—have lost their jobs as CKNW Radio.
The Sun also reported that the radio station's newsroom has been amalgamated with Global B.C.'s operation in Burnaby. No suprise here—the CKNW website has been branded as Global News for quite a while.
This is a predictable outcome of the Shaw family–controlled Corus Entertainment taking over Shaw's TV brands, including Global, in 2016.
Corus also owns CKNW, which is morphing into a talk-radio station that runs news reports from Global and traffic reports from AM 730.
Another former CKNW journalist, Charmaine de Silva, became news director at News 1130 last month.
Her bio still appears on the Global News website as of this writing, as does those of Lye, Hall, and Dickert.
Why does this matter?
People on the left side of the spectrum tend to dismiss all corporate media as acting on behalf of the most powerful forces in society. While there's considerable truth to that, it's still worth noting that radio reporters tend not to be nearly as picture-driven as TV journalists.
Lye, for example, used to prowl around the courts, coroners' inquests, and other places where cameras aren't always welcome. He also puts out more interesting tidbits on his Twitter feed than entire newsrooms of TV reporters.
When radio newsrooms are subsumed by TV operations, the public usually ends up getting fed an even larger diet of ephemeral, picture-driven news about traffic accidents and animals. That serves the interests of the powerful.
Karl Marx once said that religion is the opiate of the masses. Now, it's television news stories about pandas moving from one zoo to another.
Three factors driving this are lax broadcast regulators, their political masters, and U.S. social-media companies that gobble up advertising revenue.
There used to be a time when CKNW set the news agenda for the entire media in B.C.
It was called the Top Dog, and for good reason, when Warren Barker was commanding the newsroom and the station was locally owned.
But with what's been happening nowadays, I fear that this canine has lost its bite.